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Murray hopes Mauresmo split not seen as failure for women

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ROME (AP) Andy Murray hopes his split with Amelie Mauresmo isn’t seen as a failure for women coaching top players.

The British star improved as a clay-court player under Mauresmo but failed to add to his collection of Grand Slam titles.

“It did work. For two years the results that we had were good,” Murray said at the Italian Open on Tuesday, a day after the breakup was announced. “Maybe unless I win a Grand Slam, then maybe ultimately that’s how people may judge whether it worked or not, but when she first came into the team, I was really struggling.”

Murray became the first high-profile tennis player to hire a woman as a coach when he took on Mauresmo in June 2014. He won his first clay-court titles last year in Munich and Madrid.

Murray was asked if he thought the split would hurt the idea of women coaching men.

“When she came on board, my results actually really picked up,” Murray added. “I mean, for me, the time we spent together was positive. It’s just a shame I wasn’t able to win one of the major events, because that’s what both of us wanted.

“Roger (Federer) stopped working with Stefan Edberg at the end of last year because Stefan Edberg wanted to spend more time with his family. … No one sort of batted an eyelid about that,” Murray said.

Mauresmo said Monday that “dedicating enough time along with the travel has been a challenge for me.” The Frenchwoman gave birth to her first child in August and took six months off from coaching.

Murray has also been coached by his mother, Judy.

“So, in my opinion, it’s nothing to do with Amelie being a woman,” Murray added. “It’s the case of it takes a lot of time to do the job well and properly. It’s not easy to do that for four, five years in a row.”

With the French Open starting in 12 days, Murray doesn’t have an immediate replacement.

“I haven’t really thought too much about a new coach,” he said. “It’s something that I will speak to my team about over the next few weeks and try and find something that works. I want it to work long term, so I will take that into consideration as well.”

Having lost the Madrid Open final last Sunday to Novak Djokovic, Murray dropped to No. 3 in the rankings behind Federer. Federer and Murray have the same number of points but Federer has a better record in the big events.

Murray’s performance in Rome represents his only chance to regain the No. 2 ranking ahead of Roland Garros.

“It would be nice if I could get to 2 again,” Murray said. “But if not, then yeah, it’s not something I’m going into this week worrying too much about.”

After a first-round bye, Murray’s opening match at the Foro Italico will be against Kazakh qualifier Mikhail Kukushkin on Wednesday.

Last year, Murray lost in the third round while Federer lost the final to Djokovic.

Kasatkina upsets Venus Williams to reach Indian Wells final

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INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) Daria Kasatkina upset Venus Williams 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 in a nearly three-hour baseline struggle to reach the final of the BNP Paribas Open on Friday night.

Kasatkina was two points from defeat, trailing 4-5 and 0-30 in the third set when Williams committed four straight errors as the 20-year-old Russian tied it 5-all.

Williams won just two more points as Kasatkina took the last two games to close out the match in 2 hours, 48 minutes. Kasatkina dropped her racket near the baseline and covered her face with her hands as she walked to the net.

After shaking hands, Kasatkina pumped her fists and shook her head slightly as if in disbelief at beating the 37-year-old American and advancing to the biggest final of her young career.

Top-ranked Simona Halep took on Naomi Osaka, a 20-year-old from Japan, in the other semifinal.

After losing the first set, Kasatkina was visited by her coach on court. Philippe Dehaes told her, “She’s 37, you’re 20. Make her work a lot.”

When she wasn’t trading shots from the baseline, a nervy Kasatkina fooled Williams with drop shots, including two that landed just over the net near the sideline. The Russian tossed up lobs over the 6-foot-1 American – some worked, some didn’t, but she was undeterred.

There were 14 service breaks in the match.

Williams rallied from 3-1 down to win the first set. She trailed 3-1 again in the second and tied it 3-all when Kasatkina was broken on a double fault.

Kasatkina won the last four games in a row to take the second set. The players dueled through eight deuces in an epic eighth game, with the Russian turning back six break points against her. Williams pulled a forehand wide to lose the game.

Kasatkina’s coach visited her again before the third set.

“You go for it?” he asked her.

“Sure,” she replied, and they slapped hands.

Williams served a love game to go up 5-4. She led love-30 on Kasatkina’s serve in the next game before her forehand deserted her.

Williams double-faulted twice in a row to drop serve and trail 6-5. Kasatkina won on her second match point when Williams netted a backhand.

Kasatkina now owns a 2-1 record against Williams, who won 10-8 in the third round at Wimbledon in 2016.

Juan Martin del Potro defeated No. 31 seed Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, and Milos Raonic beat 18th-seeded American Sam Querrey 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 to reach the men’s semifinals.

More AP tennis coverage:

Maria Sharapova withdraws from Miami with forearm injury

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KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) Five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova has withdrawn from the Miami Open that begins next week because of a left forearm injury.

Sharapova announced the decision on Friday. She’ll be replaced in the main draw by American Jennifer Brady.

Sharapova lost in the first round at Indian Wells last week and in the third round of the Australian Open in January. She returned to the tour last year after a 15-month doping ban.

The women’s field includes eight-time Key Biscayne champion Serena Williams and No. 1-ranked Simona Halep. The men’s field includes defending champion Roger Federer and six-time Key Biscayne champ Novak Djokovic.